“Besides a couple of scenes of sensuality, this is a great book.”
“There’s some profanity, but this is a good book overall.”
I hear comments like this all the time. Many of my friends have the same values I have and warn me when a book’s content might be objectionable. Even in the Young Adult genre I’m not safe from content that makes me uncomfortable. This isn’t to say that we can’t address hard issues in literature, I just believe that they don’t need to be addressed as graphically as they are. I know that many people have no problem with sensuality and/or profanity in the books they read, but there are many others who do. This could be one reason why adults have taken over the YA market. We want to read good stories, but we don’t want to read graphic material. Unfortunately, when some adults start reading a particular genre, more adults follow, imposing their own tastes until that genre is barely recognizable. (While researching for this post, I came across a blog by a teenager named Vicky—Vicky Who Reads—who gives a great perspective on what adults have done to the YA genre.)
So, what if we allow adults to write and read what many adults want to read? I’m not comfortable reading sensuality and profanity, and I’m definitely not comfortable writing it. Such scenes go against my core beliefs and they feel unnecessary.
For example: Jane Austen is still a popular author 200 years after her death. We regularly see new movies based on her books. Authors rewrite her stories all the time, capitalizing on stories that they know readers will like. (I’ll admit that I’ve played around with my own retelling of Sense & Sensibility, but I can’t make it work. The plot just isn’t my own.) But nothing quite compares with the originals. We seem to forget just how clean Austen’s books are. Her characters never kiss. She didn’t pretend that sex outside of marriage never happened, but she also never needed to describe it on the page. On the rare occasion when profanity is used, it’s represented by dashes instead of words.
While writing The Forgotten King, I wrote what came naturally to me and what I was comfortable with. The story wouldn’t feel the same if I had forced my characters to feel something for each other sooner than they naturally would, and then to describe a scene that does nothing to further the story. My characters have other things on their minds, like saving the world.
What do I write? My personal values dictate that I write clean stories, and my imagination chooses fantasy. At least right now. I like to explore relationships between people. I like to understand different people. On my blog, I write what’s on my mind. My short stories are inspired by everyday life and what I observe in my children. If you’re looking for a clean read, you will find it here.